30 Conversation Topics for Play Dates

This post is Part II of a two-part series on making small talk on playdates.  Today’s post focuses on having a conversation with the moms that are a part of your small groups whom you would like to get to know better.

As an introvert, one of my greatest struggles is how to make small talk and keep a conversation going.  We introverts don’t do well with small talk typically – it’s hard for us to talk about the weather or contribute to a discussion among a large group of people.  Get us one on one in a deep discussion, and we thrive!  But when you’re a new mom trying to meet other moms, you have to start with square one, and that means trying to keep a conversation going through a play date with a mom you barely know.

I actually have found that the small group environment is pleasant as an introvert.  There is usually some structure to the discussion, some focus – maybe one group focuses on baby development, and another might be a Bible study.  But when you venture away from the group – when it’s just you and one or two moms, what do you say?  How do you get to know them so that, later on down the road, you can start having those deep, one-on-one conversations that introverts thrive on?

We have a game we play in my family.  Whenever we are on the way to a family gathering, we come up with three questions to ask each person.  Some of these questions are consistent go-tos from person to person, gathering to gathering: “How is work going?”  But we also think about the various individuals and ask questions tailored to what is going on in their lives.  “I saw that there’s a Star Wars convention in town this weekend.  Did you get a chance to go?”  Questions should be open ended and reflect a sincere interest in the other person.  You should focus more on talking about the other person than about yourself.  And you should listen to their answers!

Since it can be hard enough to brainstorm three questions when you know the person, I thought I would do the hard work for you.  Here are thirty questions you can ask at your next play date to keep the conversation going.

For the Mom You Sort of Already Know

You’ve been attending the same small group for a year or so.  You know about these women’s lives because of the snippets they’ve shared in small group.  But you don’t really feel like you know them personally.  I’m known to blurt out completely random questions when I don’t know what to say to someone.  This is not the most obvious choice.  Instead, try to work your questions into a conversation.  Although it’s better to talk about your friend, you may have to introduce some of these with an anecdote or statement of your own.

1.  Do you have any plans for the holidays?  Summer?

2.  Have you read any good books recently?

Ok, what mom truly feels like she has time to devote to reading a book?  On the other hand, what mom doesn’t like to read a good book now and then?

3.  What are your children up to these days?

This could be about school, sports, hobbies, or skills.  I still love, “What tricks is your baby doing these days?”  This is a nice way of asking a mom, “Is your baby crawling yet?” without making her feel down because, no, her baby is not crawling yet.

4.  I’m having a certain trouble with my baby.  Do you have any good advice?

It’s great to make experts out of our friends!  You can make up a problem or give a real problem.  You can use your friend’s advice or completely ignore it (after listening attentively that is).  Just don’t get into an argument with her about parenting styles.  Some ideas are: How do you get your baby to eat solid foods?  Do you know a good pediatrician?  Do you have any tips for travel with a baby?  I’m so ready to wean this baby – do you have any advice?

5.  Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

By this time, you may be able to answer this question yourself.  However, it’s a great way to get your friend to talk about herself.  You can also substitute any “personality” trait that might be interesting.  What is your friend’s love language?  Is she a risk taker?

You can ask this in a more subtle way, such as, “Would you rather…sit on the couch and read a book after your kids go to sleep at night or get together with the girls over a glass of wine?”

6.  Do you have any brothers and sisters?

Finding out about your friend’s extended family shows interest in her life.  It also provides you future opportunities to ask how the family is doing.  You can find out if her children have a lot of cousins, and how fun that must be!  (Fun to have a lot of cousins, or fun to be the only grandchild and be doted upon!)

7.  What’s the most surprising thing you learned after becoming a mother?

I can’t think of a more fun way to start a conversation.  First of all, you are again placing your friend in the position of expert.  In addition, the two of you can probably go on forever about things that surprised you or things you would do differently.

8.  What’s the best advice you received about being a mother?

Now your friend can be the expert without being the expert.  She may have the opportunity to brag on her own mom or mention a cherished mentor that she’s had.  Or perhaps you can ask if she has any recommendations for a good parenting book.

9.  If you could meet any person, who would it be?

Specify: dead or alive.  It could be more fun to ask about a living person, although it could also end up being political.  On the other hand, it makes a more fun game if you narrow down the list of contenders.  In a Bible Study you can ask, “What person from the Bible (other than Jesus – we all want to say Jesus) would you like to meet?  What saint would you like to meet?”

10.  Do you have any hobbies?  Would you be willing to teach us?

If your friend has a hobby, I’m sure she’d love to tell you all about it.  She may knit or paint or just read.  She may make blankets for orphans or to fundraise – which may open the door for her asking you for a donation!  Still, allow her to get on her soap box.  Even see if she would be willing to teach you or your entire small group.  Going to a knitting class would be a fun way to get to know everyone better and have an evening off.

11.  What’s the best thing about being a boy/girl mom?

This is a fun question to ask if you are pregnant and not sure what to expect.  For instance, if my next baby is a boy, I can ask other moms of boys what was different about their sons vs. their daughters and what they love about being a boy mom.

12.  How did you and your husband meet?

13.  Are you adventurous?  What’s your craziest dream?

And I mean crazy.  We all have had dreams we had to sacrifice – especially after becoming mothers.  It may be unfair to label this a “bucket list” item, because many of us know we’ll never be able to do this before we “kick the bucket.”  Still, a crazy dream is a passion, and your friend will love talking about her passion.

14.  Do you have any good dinner ideas that my kids will actually eat?

15.  Have you ever lived in another country?  Have you adopted any of their cultural traditions into your family life?

Another way to ask this would be to ask what holiday traditions your friend has.

For the Mom You Want to Get to Know Better

You’ve finally spent some time in a group getting to know other moms, and you’ve singled out one or two that you think you would get along with well.  Now’s the time to invite them for a play date: at the park, at your house, at the library, at Chick Fil A (they have the best indoor play areas).  But once your kiddos are absorbed in the playground, what do you talk about?  You can certainly break the ice with some of the questions I’ve posted above.  Here are some ideas to get to know your friend deeper.

1.  What have you been up to recently?

This is a great open ended question.  Not only do you find out what your friend has been doing recently, you find out what is important in her life.  Think about it – she’s not going to tell you how she cleaned the toilets Monday – unless that felt like a really big accomplishment she’s proud to share.  So this question allows her to talk about what’s important to her.

2.  Where do you see yourself in five years?

If you ask this question word-for-word you may sound like an interviewer.  However, you can use a similar question to find out more about your friend’s hopes and dreams.  You could say, “So, you’re staying at home with the kids now.  Do you have plans for when they go to school?”  or “Do you think you’re going to stay in this area / your house long-term, or would you like to see other parts of the country?”

3.  What would you do if money wasn’t an obstacle?

Again, here’s a way to talk about your mom friend’s hopes and dreams.  For moms, this question can be double sided.  On the one hand, you can find out about your friends’ dreams to travel the world or start a charity.  On the other, you can find out whether her role as a stay at home mom or working mom is really where she wants to be.  If money wasn’t an object, would she quit her job?  If money wasn’t an object, would she hire a nanny?  And if so, does she feel comfortable enough with you to admit that?

4.  Would you be interested in doing a recipe exchange?

Once you’ve found common ground with your friend, try to start looking for unique ways to spend time with each other.  Setting up a progressive dinner or cookie exchange with just a few of the moms you know is a good way to get started.

5.  What would you do if you had an entire day to yourself?

6.  What’s on your travel bucket list?

7.  How did you work through a difficult parenting decision?

Here is another “make your friend an expert” question.  You can set it up with a little bit of background about yourself – just please always be respectful of your husband when talking to your girl friends.  “Sigh.  We’re having trouble sleep training Bugaboo, and the problem isn’t her I don’t think, it’s us.  We try things my way one night and my husband’s way another night.  He wants to do a no tears approach, I think we should do Ferber, but nothing’s getting resolved.  What do you do when you and your husband can’t decide on a parenting approach?”

8.  What sort of music do you listen to?

You can introduce this question by asking if your friend has heard a certain song, or if she heard a certain quip on a local radio station.  If she has, you already have something in common, but you can go further and ask what other music she listens to.

9.  Who were your role models and mentors?

Maybe you’ve heard your mom friend mention a few people on and off.  You can always start here: “You mention your mom a lot.  She must have been a strong influence in your life.”  Or you can start with your own anecdote, “I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my Aunt Beatrice to talk to.  Do you have anyone in your life like that?”  You could ask who she looked up to as a child, “I hope Bugaboo has some good role models, beyond her parents, growing up.  Who influenced you as a child?”

10.  What experience from your childhood do you want to re-live with your kids?

As moms, we tend to talk about our kids a lot.  It’s the easiest conversation to have.  Why not dovetail a discussion about your kids into a discussion about your mom friends.  Find out about what life was like for her growing up.

11.  What is something you plan to do differently than your parents?

This could be an easy follow up to either question #9 or #10.  Once you find a little more about your friend’s family life – if she had a great childhood or terrible – you can find out what she learned from it.

12.  What was your favorite subject in school?

13.  What’s one thing you would have done differently?

This question is not necessarily to get stuck in regrets.  But it’s a way to get to know your friend as well as her history.  Narrow this question down to an applicable time range.  For instance, if you are talking about your college days, ask what she would have done differently in college – or even if she would have changed her major given a chance.  Or ask if there was one thing she wishes she would have done before she got married.

14.  What’s your biggest worry as a mother?

Full disclosure – in my Bible Study they asked a similar question to the group one day.  My accounting brain immediately went to finances.  Almost all the other mothers said they worried about their children growing up in the faith.  I realized then and there that this was a group of women who could help mentor me, and I could learn a lot from them.  You can also learn a lot about yourself.  And if you find out what your friend’s biggest worry is, you can serve as a source of comfort to her!  If we’re both worried about our child’s faith, then we can find common ground in building that faith up – through faith based story time, Bible study and Sunday School, and through encouraging each other.

15.  Before your baby was born, did you ever prefer boy vs. girl?

This is something we tend to ask first time moms, right?  Do you have a preference?  And the expected answer is, “No.”  But there may be a preference for a deeper reason than you would think.  If you and your friend are comfortable with each other, you can be real about the challenges and fears you face(d) in early motherhood.  Another way to ask this question, if your friend has only boys or only girls, is to ask, “Did you ever want to have a girl/boy?” or “Did you ever think you would have all boys/girls?”

Bonus: Let’s follow up on that conversation we were having at our last group meeting…

I feel like the moms groups I attend are very efficient.  As women, we like to go off on tangents.  In a group, everyone needs to share, and that takes time.

So there you have it – 30 ways to dive into a conversation with another mom at your next play date!  Don’t ask her all these at once or she’ll think you’re interviewing her!  Pick your favorite three to arm yourself with, then go where the conversation takes you!

What’s your favorite conversation topic with your mom friends?

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